On a brutally cold day, Greeters were grateful to be inside at 1 Centre Street where we learned about the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Commission is our neighbor on the 9th floor. They decide which buildings are designated landmarks and which districts are designated as historic.
Jenny Fernandez, Director of Community Relations for the Commission, gave a beautiful slide presentation. Her joy in sharing her knowledge made for a mesmerizing talk.
There are over 31, 000 landmark buildings and structures in all five boroughs, such as the inside of Grand Central Terminal and the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island. There are 109 historic districts, one being Sunnyside, Queens. Apartment houses built there in 1924 have interior courtyards with landscaping that was ahead of its time – and still is today!
There are ten scenic landmarks, such as Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. All scenic landmarks must be owned by the city.
The original Pennsylvania Train Station, completed in 1910, was considered a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style. When it was demolished in 1963, it created such an uproar among New Yorkers, that the Landmarks Law was enacted in 1965. It galvanized support for architectural preservation and established criteria for designation status: the property must be at least 30 years old and have cultural, historical or architectural significance. Once designation has been earned, a property can’t be destroyed.
Jenny also talked about performing work on designated properties. If you want to put a new kitchen in your landmarked apartment building, the Commission makes sure your changes follow landmark rules. The inside and the outside of a building can be landmarked, together or separately.
The Commission also protects you from contractors who don’t know which materials are acceptable. “If it’s not done right, it’s going to ruin the building,” Jenny said. “The Commission is actually on your side to help you – and the city – preserve historical treasures.”
If you’re interested in applying for landmark or historic designation, you will find a simple one-page application on the Commission’s website: www.nyc.gov/landmarks
For more information, call 212-669-7700 or email [email protected]